Solution to a happy marriage: give more than 50 per cent
In 1979, as she walked along Front Street, Liz Parker was intrigued by the displays of flowers around one of the buildings.
“It was a competition. I went in and saw the amazing work that these flower arrangers did. I said, ‘I just have to know how to do this.’”
She joined the Garden Club of Bermuda and gobbled up every course it offered.
“In those days you had to be proposed to the Garden Club, and then seconded by several people,” she said. “I think you still have to be proposed, but it is easier to join now.”
The classes helped Ms Parker qualify as an international judge. She eventually began adjudicating at flower arranging competitions around the world.
The more involved she became the less she enjoyed her full-time job with a destination management company that regularly brought groups of 1,000 to the island in the 1990s.
“Big companies would bring their employees in as perks,” the 73-year-old said. “All the hotels were open and functioning then. We did everything for the groups.”
What she hated most, was having to get up at 5.30am to herd people into taxis and buses so they could make it to the airport on time.
“It could be a very stressful job,” she said. “If there were dinners, I also had to go along and supervise in case anything went wrong.”
Meanwhile, friends were asking her to do the flowers for their weddings. In 1994 Ms Parker started her own company, Flowers By Design, and set up a work room in her garage.
“It grew from there,” she said. “I made contact with a flower wholesaler in Boston, and also a flower supply company, so that I could get containers or other types of supplies.
“I had a couple of friends come and help. We put out a lot of work.”
There were summers when she would do as many as six weddings.
Only a few hours before one of them did she discover that the bride was Seraphina Watts, the daughter of the late Rolling Stones drummer, Charlie Watts.
“She was very nice. I did her bouquet and boutonnières and things like that.”
She never got to meet another client, a café chain magnate from Massachusetts, but dealt with their very demanding management company instead.
“It was held under a tent on the lawn at the Southampton Princess,” Ms Parker said. “They wanted the tent poles covered so I had to put all this willow around the tent poles to make them look like trees.”
She rented a garden trellis to use as a canopy, and covered it with white lilies and roses.
“I went home to get the centrepieces for their dinner inside the hotel,” she said. “When I got back a waiter was moving the bar.”
Because it was breezy, the management company had decided to relocate the ceremony to the nearby Whaler Inn restaurant. Everything had to be redone, in two hours.
Ms Parker had just finished when the first wedding party buses rolled in.
Despite such challenges she had a lot of fun until 1999, when it became more complicated to import flowers.
Tired of the headaches, she closed the business and ultimately became an administrator at Christ Church in Warwick, where she worships.
It was never meant to be a full-time job, but her husband Geoff joked that while she worked 12 hours a week, she was on call 24/7.
But she loved the work. “No two days were the same,” said Ms Parker, who stepped down in March. “I thought I would do that for a couple of years. Instead, I ended up doing it for 21 years.”
The Garden Club still keeps her busy although she isn’t as interested in gardening as some of the other members.
“I like to putter around outside,” she said. “I enjoy being outside in nature.”
The Parkers married 53 years ago after being introduced by mutual friends.
“I was staying at my best friend’s house when I met him,” Ms Parker said. “She had an older brother, Glenn, who was in the same class as Geoff at Saltus. Geoff had a boat. One day, they needed another person to go water skiing with them. Glenn said well my sister has someone staying with us, maybe they could go out with us.”
The Parkers have two sons, Geoff Jr and Douglas.
“I told my sons when they got married that marriage is not 50-50,” Ms Parker said. “If you each give more than 50 per cent then it works, in my experience. You don’t say, ‘That’s not my job; I’m not going to do it.’ Hopefully, your partner reciprocates in another way and hopefully, you balance each other out.”
Her grandsons, Bobby and Bradley, “are the lights of my life”.
Ms Parker received the Queen’s Badge of Honour in 1994 for her contributions to the Bermuda Junior Service League, local golf and the Garden Club of Bermuda.
Lifestyle profiles the island’s senior citizens every Wednesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or firstname.lastname@example.org with the full name and contact details and the reason you are suggesting them